Operator issues report on nuclear reactor fire

14th July 2007, Comments 0 comments

14 July 2007, Kiel, Germany (dpa) - The Swedish operator of a German nuclear plant hit by a fire two weeks ago admitted to a "misunderstanding" between senior staff on duty at the time.

14 July 2007

Kiel, Germany (dpa) - The Swedish operator of a German nuclear plant hit by a fire two weeks ago admitted to a "misunderstanding" between senior staff on duty at the time.

The admission by Vattenfall Europe came after police searched offices at the site of the reactor at Kruemmel, near Geesthacht, 30 kilometres south-east of Hamburg.

In a report on the incident to regulators that was available on the company website Saturday, Vattenfall said there was a breakdown in communications between the reactor operator and the shift manager.

The misunderstanding involved the operation of valves designed to slow a rise in pressure in the reactor's casing, following the failure of a water pump, the company said.

The operator opened two valves for several minutes, instead of alternately opening and closing them as the manager wanted. As a result, pressure dropped rapidly in a short period, Vattenfall said.

The Swedish company has been forced to defend itself over its public handling of the June 28 incident, which led to the reactor being shut down.

On Friday police questioned the reactor operator over whether he inhaled smoke which entered the control room after fire started in a transformer separate from the reactor building.

The company, which had previously opposed the questioning but denied obstructing the inquiry, said the man was not injured.

   The legislature of Schleswig-Holstein state warned Vattenfall that it might lose its licence to operate Kruemmel and called on company officials to testify at a state parliamentary inquiry next week.

   Gitta Trauernicht, the state's minister responsible for reactor safety, told the regional parliament Friday she would use all her powers to force improvements at Kruemmel, one of 17 nuclear power stations in Germany.

   "I've used the full range of legal means and ensured that Kruemmel remains deactivated," she said, adding that the day of blunders at Vattenfall had been "unique" in the history of the German nuclear industry.

   In addition to Kruemmel another Vattenfall-operated reactor in Brunsbuettel was shut down on the same day because of a short circuit. Neither reactor was damaged.

The company last year shut down reactors at its Forsmark nuclear plant in Sweden for two months after a fault in the plant's back-up power system was discovered

   German anti-nuclear groups have demanded that Vattenfall's nuclear licence be revoked. Under legislation, all Germany's nuclear power plants are to close by 2021.

DPA

Subject: German news

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